Samsung has launched a new quad-core, 32nm HKMG processor today that it intends to showcase as part of the Galaxy S3, which will be officially launched next week. The new chip contains up to four Cortex-A9 cores running at 1.4GHz. It’s the first Exynos to utilize per-core scaling and voltage adjustments — previous devices, including Nvidia’s own Tegra 3, have eschewed individual core clock-gating (NV has claimed this actually reduced power by avoiding the need to implement power-hungry traces and gates).

According to Samsung, the new quad chip is capable of higher performance and lower power consumption than any of its 45nm cousins; the company hasn’t stated what GPU powers the device but its rumored to be a quad-core version of the Mali-400 that was used in the Galaxy S2.

Whether or not customers will be able to make effective use of a quad-core device, or whether we’ll see the Exynos 4412 squeezing into phones instead of tablets remain open questions. The shift to 32nm and the addition of clock gating and independent voltages should give the 4412 a power profile similar to Samsung’s older dual cores. Software optimizations remain an open question — if code isn’t written properly, the extra cores simply won’t be used enough to make a significant difference.